YouthRISE Nigeria holds its maiden Drug Policy Academy
Youth Initiative for Drug Research, Information, Support and Education in Nigeria (YouthRISE Nigeria) has trained no fewer than 25 individuals from across Nigeria in a just concluded 3-day drug policy academy.
The training which took place in Abuja was attended by selected youths, after a competitive application process, from different sectors and geo-political zones of Nigeria.
While declaring the training open, the YouthRISE Nigeria Programme Officer, Oluseyi Kehinde intimated the participants with the objectives of the organisation, as well the rationale behind the training.
“YouthRISE Nigeria was formally established in 2014 and primarily works with people who use drugs (both young and old) and empowers them through community engagement for HIV prevention, treatment and care, provision of drug counselling services, partnership with Government and other stakeholders for policy reform and research” he said.
The Participants were however engaged in series of interactive lectures led by the Project Coordinator, YouthRISE Nigeria, Adeolu Ogunrombi. In one of his presentations, Adeolu asserted that the current drug policy response in Nigeria is reactive and not based on evidence. Hence its, ineffectiveness at addressing drug abuse in our society. “We need to see people who use drugs as individuals who need help. When we stop criminalizing and stigmatizing them, we can actually save a lot of people. So the policy should focus more on harm reduction” he stressed.
He went further to state that it would be better to device an approach which addresses drug abuse as a public health issue rather than the use of the criminal justice system.
Also educating the participants, Maria-Goretti Loglo of the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) talked about the various drug policies on ground and the need for each nation, especially Nigeria to adjust towards making the policies that reflect the principles of public health and human rights.
She said the current drug policy discourages people who use drugs from accessing health services because of stigma; discrimination and the fear of arrest.
“Money spent on enforcing law against drug users can however, be spent on counselling and treatment of drug dependent individuals”.
A member of YouthRISE International, Anita Krug spoke succinctly about substance use, youth and mental health at the Academy. She also educated participants about harm reduction.
Nonso Maduka; a pharmacist and Mr Segun Sangowawa both tutored the participants about drugs and addiction and behavioral change communication respectively.
At the end of the training, the certificated participants, expressed their gratitude to YouthRISE Nigeria for building their capacity in drug policy and effective response.